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A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire #2)

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A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire #2) Cover

 

 

Excerpt

ARYA

At Winterfell they had called her "Arya Horseface" and she'd thought nothing could be worse, but that was before the orphan boy Lommy Greenhands had named her "Lumpyhead."

Her head felt lumpy when she touched it. When Yoren had dragged her into that alley she'd thought he meant to kill her, but the sour old man had only held her tight, sawing through her mats and tangles with his dagger. She remembered how the breeze sent the fistfuls of dirty brown hair skittering across the paving stones, toward the sept where her father had died. "I'm taking men and boys from the city," Yoren growled as the sharp steel scrapedat her head. "Now you hold still, boy." By the time he had finished, her scalp was nothing but tufts and stubble.

Afterward he told her that from there to Winterfell she'd be Arry the orphan boy. "Gate shouldn't be hard, but the road's another matter. You got a long way to go in bad company. I got thirty this time, men and boys all bound for the Wall, and don't be thinking they're like that bastard brother o' yours." He shook her. "Lord Eddard gave me pick o' the dungeons, and I didn't find no little lordlings down there. This lot, half o' them would turn you over to the queen quick as spit for a pardon and maybe a few silvers. The other half'd do the same, only they'd rape you first. So you keep to yourself and make your water in the woods,alone. That'll be the hardest part, the pissing, so don't drink no more'n you need."

Leaving King's Landing was easy, just like he'd said. The Lannister guardsmen on the gate were stopping everyone, but Yoren called one by name and their wagons were waved through. No one spared Arya a glance. They were looking for a highborn girl, daughter of the King's Hand, not for a skinny boy with his hair chopped off. Arya never looked back. She wished the Rush would rise and wash the whole city away, Flea Bottom and the Red Keep and the Great Sept and everything, and everyone too, especially Prince Joffrey and his mother. But she knew it wouldn't, and anyhow Sansa was still in the city and would wash away too. When she remembered that, Arya decided to wish for Winterfell instead.

Yoren was wrong about the pissing, though. That wasn't the hardest part at all; Lommy Greenhands and Hot Pie were the hardest part. Orphan boys. Yoren had plucked some from the streets with promises of food for their bellies and shoes for their feet. The rest he'd found in chains. "The Watch needs good men," he told them as they set out, "but you lot will have to do."

Yoren had taken grown men from the dungeons as well, thieves and poachers and rapers and the like. The worst were the three he'd found in the black cells who must have scared even him, because he kept them fettered hand and foot in the back of a wagon, and vowed they'd stay in irons all the way to the Wall. One had no nose, only the hole in his face where it had been cut off, and the gross fat bald one with the pointed teeth and the weeping sores on his cheeks had eyes like nothing human.

They took five wagons out of King's Landing, laden with supplies for the Wall: hides and bolts of cloth, bars of pig iron, a cage of ravens, books and paper and ink, a bale of sourleaf, jars of oil, and chests of medicine and spices. Teams of plow horses pulled the wagons, and Yoren had bought two coursers and a half-dozen donkeys for the boys. Arya would have preferred a real horse, but the donkey was better than riding on a wagon.

The men paid her no mind, but she was not so lucky with the boys. She was two years younger than the youngest orphan, not to mention smaller and skinnier, and Lommy and Hot Pie took her silence to mean she was scared, or stupid, or deaf. "Look at that sword Lumpyhead's got there," Lommy said one morning as they made their plodding way past orchards and wheat fields. He'd been a dyer's apprentice before he was caught stealing, and his arms were mottled green to the elbow. When he laughed he brayed like the donkeys they were riding.

"Where's a gutter rat like Lumpyhead get him a sword?"

Arya chewed her lip sullenly. She could see the back of Yoren's faded black cloak up ahead of the wagons, but she was determined not to go crying to him for help.

"Maybe he's a little squire," Hot Pie put in. His mother had been a baker before she died, and he'd pushed her cart through the streets all day, shouting "Hot pies! Hot pies!"

"Some lordy lord's little squire boy, that's it."

"He ain't no squire, look at him. I bet that's not even a real sword. I bet it's just some play sword made of tin."

Arya hated them making fun of Needle. "It's castle-forged steel, you stupid," she snapped, turning in the saddle to glare at them, "and you better shut your mouth."

The orphan boys hooted. "Where'd you get a blade like that, Lumpyface?" Hot Pie wanted to know.

"Lumpyhead," corrected Lommy. "He prob'ly stole it."

"I did not!" she shouted. Jon Snow had given her Needle. Maybe she had to let them call her Lumpyhead, but she wasn't going to let them call Jon a thief.

"If he stole it, we could take it off him," said Hot Pie. "It's not his anyhow. I could use me a sword like that."

Lommy egged him on. "Go on, take it off him, I dare you."

Hot Pie kicked his donkey, riding closer. "Hey, Lumpyface, you gimme that sword." His hair was the color of straw, his fat face all sunburnt and peeling. "You don't know how to use it."

Yes I do, Arya could have said. I killed a boy, a fat boy like you, I stabbed him in the belly and he died, and I'll kill you too if you don't let me alone. Only she did not dare. Yoren didn't know about the stableboy, but she was afraid of what he might do if he found out. Arya was pretty sure that some of the other men were killers too, the three in the manacles for sure, but the queen wasn't looking for them, so it wasn't the same.

"Look at him," brayed Lommy Greenhands. "I bet he's going to cry now. You want to cry, Lumpyhead?"

She had cried in her sleep the night before, dreaming of her father. Come morning, she'd woken red-eyed and dry, and could not have shed another tear if her life had hung on it.

Copyright 2002 by George R.R. Martin

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Cynthia Burmester, September 9, 2011 (view all comments by Cynthia Burmester)
Continuing the drama of A Game of Thrones this 2nd book in GRRM's A Song of Fire & Ice series, this book, more than once, made my jaw literally drop as the twists & turns didn't just unfold but hits you over the head!
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M-reader, September 1, 2011 (view all comments by M-reader)
So far the series is great, and this book was especially good. It's got that escapist, addictive quality throughout, but there are also parts where the pacing, revelation of key information, and twists are much better than most in the genre.
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crowyhead, July 28, 2011 (view all comments by crowyhead)
I am enjoying this series way too much. There is definitely stuff that is hard to stomach and should probably make me like this series a lot less, the biggest aspect being the whole rape culture thing. I know that rape is never treated like a good thing, but it is SO grindingly pervasive and I wish that of all the cultures in Martin's world, he'd managed to come up with one in which women were treated better. Maybe he has, but so far they haven't shown up. Also, there is just a serious dearth of pleasant, normal sex; when the healthiest on-screen sexual relationship you've got is between Tyrion and Shae, you gotta wonder a little. I know it's a quasi-Medieval culture and it would be jarring to have modern gender roles and modern attitudes about rape, but there's got to be some balance in there, or I just get TIRED.

But all such complaints aside, I am still loving the hell out of these books and I'm completely addicted. Today I was hovering around the courier crates hoping that my library hold on Storm of Swords had arrived. Sadly, it looks like I'll have to wait until Monday.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780553381696
Author:
Martin, George R. R.
Publisher:
Bantam
Location:
New York
Subject:
Fantastic fiction
Subject:
Fantasy - General
Subject:
Fantasy - Series
Subject:
Fantasy - Epic
Subject:
Imaginary places
Subject:
Civil war
Subject:
Fantasy fiction
Subject:
Science / General
Subject:
Science Fiction and Fantasy-Fantasy-Epic
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series:
Song of Ice and Fire
Series Volume:
02
Publication Date:
May 2002
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
784
Dimensions:
9.20x6.10x1.62 in. 1.67 lbs.

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Related Subjects


Fiction and Poetry » Science Fiction and Fantasy » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Science Fiction and Fantasy » Fantasy » Epic

A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire #2) Used Trade Paper
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$12.50 In Stock
Product details 784 pages Bantam - English 9780553381696 Reviews:
"Review" by , "Martin amply fulfills the first volume's promise and continues what seems destined to be one of the best fantasy series ever written."
"Review" by , "The rewards are considerable: a backdrop of convincing depth and texture; intricate, flawless plotting; fully realized characters; and restrained, inventive magical/occult elements."
"Review" by , "[Martin] provides a banquet for fantasy lovers with large appetites — and this is only the second course of a repast with no end in sight."
"Review" by , "A classic work of fantasy."
"Review" by , "Aided by an appendix of kings and their courts, Clash can be enjoyed on its own, though many then may retreat to Game, reread Clash, and impatiently await more of Westeros."
"Review" by , "Martin has created a rich world filled with characters whose desires for love and power drive them to extremes of nobility and betrayal. Fans of epic fantasy should appreciate this lavishly detailed sequel to A Game of Thrones."
"Review" by , "This work of superior world building inhabited by fully-developed characters is for a mature audience because of the violence, strong language, and sexual encounters. Great cover and a great read!"
"Synopsis" by , A Clash of Kings is the follow-up to A Game of Thrones, George R. R. Martin's fabulous introduction to multilayered epic fantasy adventure that marked one of the most auspicious kickoffs in years. For those of you who enjoy your fantasy big, thick, and complex, Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series is for you.
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